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FAO signs five year agreement with INBAR to scale bamboo and rattan farming

November 21, 2020

A new five-year partnership signed between the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization ( INBAR ) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that aims to scale up the benefits and opportunities that these fast growing tropical plants provide, including reducing rural poverty, increasing carbon sequestration, promoting biodiversity and land restoration, and the greening of the construction industry worldwide.

'Through our (FAO and INBAR's) strengthened cooperation we will support Members improve food security and nutrition, transform agri-food systems, create employment and generate income while protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, also through the rational land use of hills and mountains, while addressing climate change and reducing soil erosion,' said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. 'We will help countries use bamboo and rattan in an effective manner that contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,' he added.

The FAO-INBAR strategic alliance is particularly important and meaningful as 'Africa and South Asia are the two regions that face the most serious problem of food security, while on the other hand they have some of the most abundant bamboo and rattan resources in the world,' said Professor JIANG Zehui, Co-Chair of INBAR's Board of Trustees. INBAR will 'spare no effort' to promote ways to 'create a better world for all' in partnership with FAO, she added.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed by FAO and INBAR was designed in a highly participatory manner, illustrating both organization's commitment and providing promising support for sustainable development, said INBAR Director-General Ali Mchumo. The partnership will allow efforts to 'reap more benefits' for the world's most vulnerable people, he said.

The new partnership has come together quickly amid the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic. A task force comprising some 30 experts from FAO and INBAR has already held its first meeting to operationalize a work plan through 2022, including joint proposals for resource mobilization, coordinated implementation of projects, development of knowledge products and the exchange of data and information.

With over 194 member states and working in over 130 countries worldwide, FAO is the specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. FAO has a long history of fostering sustainable agricultural development and the sustainable use of biodiversity for food and agriculture. FAO is also supporting countries to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change through a wide range of research-based and practical programmes and projects , as an integral part of the 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

INBAR, an intergovernmental organization with 47 members set up in 1997, has played an active role in helping countries pursue the sustainable use of rattan and bamboo with an eye to a range of Sustainable Development Goals, including ending poverty, providing affordable energy and housing for all, addressing climate change, making efficient use of natural resources and protecting terrestrial ecosystems. It has been a strong advocate of South-South Cooperation, INBAR has headquarters in China, the world's largest bamboo producer, with regional offices in Cameroon, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana and India.

Bamboo and rattan grow locally to some of the world's poorest communities in the tropics and subtropics and their special characteristics fit well into green development plans, able to provide a fast-renewing alternative to timber fuel as well as cutting-edge building materials to replace emissions-intensive materials such as steel, plastics and concrete. New uses are projected to include wind turbine blades and bullet-train fuselages.

Bamboo, technically a grass whose root systems can help bind soils to fight desertification, can grow up to a meter in a day, offering powerful carbon sequestration opportunities both while alive and while converted into products for human use. Moreover, it can grow on marginal soils so no need not compete with productive croplands.

Rattan, a member of the palm family, grows like a rope and is widely used to make woven items, furniture, baskets, and birdcages, and is being trialed as the basis for bone replacement material. Like bamboo, it grows quickly and grows back after harvesting, creating a fast-acting source of sustainable income.

Combined, the two plants support a $60 billion global industry, according to INBAR, which estimates that exports amounted to $1.7 billion in 2017.

There are 1 642 known bamboo species and about 600 species of rattan. Beyond their own biodiversity, the plants play a key role in ecosystems, and many of the world's most iconic and endangered species - such as the giant panda, mountain gorilla and greater bamboo lemur, as well as a sizable share of bird species in the Amazon- depend on them for survival, highlighting their range of relevance in terms of conserving the world's biodiversity.

Bamboo's multifunctional nature is showcased in the 1,000-year-old farming system in Damyang , Korea, which this year won recognition as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System , where bamboo stands impede soil erosion, moderate temperatures for villages and the tea and mushrooms they grow.

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